How to Reframe Art Using Thrift Store & Markdown Frames

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reframing tutorial

Isn’t it funny how you get used to your surroundings and even though you might not like something you learn to turn a blind eye or tolerate it? That’s the situation with a sunflower framed picture that has hung in my daughter’s bathroom for about 15 years. There is nothing wrong with it, except that she was tired of looking at it and I’d forgotten to clean the glass for like…well, let’s not try to figure out how long that had been. The day before she came home from college last weekend, I decided to give the frame a makeover. So, I wanted to share how I like to reframe art using thrift store and markdown frames.

sunflower frame

This frame started as a markdown item in the “get rid of it section” of a store many years ago. I was on a sunflower kick at the time, so it was perfect, way back when. That was three houses ago, when I painted our dining room yellow and even added a sunflower border. Tastes and times change and little girls who accept cast off pictures grow into women who would like their surroundings to reflect their personal style. I completely understand that.

dirty frame glass

Clean the Glass and the Frame

I was super determined and excited to make this simple change. The first thing I did was clean the glass, which was covered in old hair spray and water marks.

Windex wipes sunflower

First, I wiped down the glass with Windex® Original Glass Wipes. This is a really important first step because when you take the frame apart, you don’t want dirt and yuck getting inside. So, get the outside as clean as you can from the beginning.

windex sprayed sunflower

After I wiped down the picture, I noticed that some of the hairspray was really stuck on. I decided to spray on some Windex® Original Glass Cleaner and let it sit for a few minutes so it could help me get off those extra stubborn spots.

Windex spray wipes

It looked so vibrant when I was finished cleaning it! I almost wanted to hang it right back up. I really love that little cat under the chair, but I had a plan for change and I was going to stick to it!

Remove the Back

frame backing

After the glass and frame are clean, you need to remove the back. Some framed art is easier to replace than others. Sometimes the backs are simply taped on, sometimes there are a thousand staples, (that happened to me with two frames I redid at Christmas) and sometimes, they’re simple hinges.

Tools that Help

picture tools

Both of these tools can ease the pain of pushing staples out of the way. The one on the left is a tack puller. I use it the same way I use the staple puller on the right, but I find myself using the stapler puller the most. It is usually used for pulling up flooring staples.

prying staple puller

I love it because of its lever action. Not only does it make staple removal easy, but it also helps me bend the staples back easily, without pulling them out.

staple bending

That’s actually the goal here, pushing the staples up and out of the way so the backing can be removed. You want to leave the staples attached so you can bend them back down over the backing when you put it back on.

Work on a Flat Surface

Sunflower mat removed

One of the biggest helps during this process is working on a flat surface. I’m using my kitchen island. You’ll need space and a level place when you begin removing the mat from the picture, if you have to do that.

Clean the Inside

window empty frame

When you’re reframing things, it’s extremely important to clean everything well. I’m using Windex® Original Glass Cleaner again to get this glass as clean on the inside as it will be on the outside. Do a great job here, because you don’t want to have to open the frame back up after you’re done. That’s the worst.

Saving the Mat

torn sunflower

Frames can be expensive, but so can mats. Do everything you can to save and reuse the one that comes with your frame, if you want to keep costs down. Working on a flat, level area is most important here, because you’re going to pull the art from the mat, without tearing or bending the mat. It’s not always easy. A little muscle and a lot of patience will go a long way. I really wanted to keep this picture, but sometimes it’s just not possible. It was glued to the frame and difficult to remove.

mat without sunflower

Look carefully at the sides of the mat and be sure you can tell which part is mat and which part is the picture you want to remove. Pull the picture away from the matted edge when the mat is face down. Turn it face up to make sure you’ve gotten all the pieces from the edges. Carefully tear or cut jagged pieces away.

Add Your New Art to the Frame

frame with back taped

It’s time to add your new art! Line it up, checking from the front for a perfect fit. Once you have it like you want it, tape it down with packing tape. That will hold everything really well.

The finished back isn’t pretty but you don’t need to worry about that. If you’re lucky you can reuse the backing to cover this mess. If not, you can use kraft paper or butcher paper. I’ve used the unrolled middle of wrapping paper, and that works great. Bend the staples back down over the backing and the mat. The tools I mentioned earlier can really help with that.

atlanta botanical gardens lady

Turn it over and clean it again.

This is a photo that I took when my daughter and I toured the Atlanta Botanical Gardens last summer. I was so happy to be able to replace the sunflower picture with something that was special and meaningful to my daughter. We had a great time that day!  We went back later in the summer with the whole family.  The lady was just as beautiful.

atlanta botanical lady close

Look how clean Windex® got that glass!! This is a close up of the photo in the frame. It’s only blurry on the edges because my camera’s focus is on the lady’s face.

Windex Kroger

I couldn’t have done this without using Windex®. It helped me turn that uninspiring and inexpensive framed art into a meaningful framed treasure that shines! I picked up Windex® at Kroger, where I also stocked up with some of her favorite foods for her weekend home.

The best part of this reframing is that my daughter loved it! She was so surprised! We’ve even decided to relocate it to her room, because the greens go perfectly in there. YAY!

So, search for low cost framed art, then take it home and make it your own!

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One Comment

  1. What a beautiful piece of art and a wonderful memory. I love that you reframed it for your home! [client]

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